Georgia Southern Soars Past Chattanooga, 84-76
STATESBORO, Ga. - Georgia Southern Men's Basketball opened its 19th year of play in the Southern Conference with a 84-76 victory over Chattanooga on Thursday night, December 1st, at Hanner Fieldhouse. The Eagles took the 90s Night victory over the preseason favorite to win the SoCon North Division.
"To say tonight's win was big is an understatement. We needed to go out and make a statement tonight," said Head Coach Charlton "C.Y." Young. "Our team has a long way to go, but we grew together as a team with the victory. Chattanooga is a good team that will be in the hunt for the league title at the end of the year."
Georgia Southern shot a season-best 51.7% to down the Mocs and improve to 2-4 overall and 1-0 in league play. Top scoring honors were shared between senior Ben Drayton III (St. Marys, Ga.) and sophomore Jelani Hewitt (Miramar, Fla.) on 20 points. Hewitt was a career-best 6-of-8 from downtown and made three steals in the game. Drayton paired his score with six assists and two steals.
Sophomore Eric Ferguson (Statesboro, Ga.) had 17 points along with six rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes of work. Tré Bussey (Lithia Springs, Ga.) and Willie Powers III (Gainesville, Fla.) closed out the Eagles' double-digit scorers with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Powers had six assists while Bussey was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field.
Ricky Taylor had 16 points to lead the Mocs who fall to 2-5 overall and 0-1 in the SoCon. Drazen Zlovaric and Omar Wattad each scored 11 while preseason All-SoCon honoree Keegan Bell was held to just five points off a superb defensive effort by the Eagles.
The Eagles led 42-31 at the intermission behind six three-pointers in the opening half. Georgia Southern tallied eight offensive rebounds and shot 52.4% from the field and an even 50.0% from downtown.
Georgia Southern extended its lead out to 15 points in the first two minutes of the second half, but saw a 9-0 Chattanooga run cut the margin to six points at 49-43 with just less than 16 minutes remaining.
The Eagles answered the run over the next three minutes to take the lead back to 15 with a 13-4 run. Each team then logged dueling 7-0 runs to make the score 69-54 with seven minutes remaining. The largest lead of the night came at the 4:07 mark with GSU leading by 16 points.
Georgia Southern carded a 12 point lead with 1:56 remaining, but three layups over the next 1:07 for Chattanooga made it a six point game with 49 seconds remaining. GSU converted its free throws down the stretch to cement the win despite committing five of the team's 18 turnovers in the final two minutes of the game.
The Eagles out-rebounded Chattanooga 35-30 and recorded 13 offensive rebounds to post 19 second chance points. The Mocs out-scored GSU 45-42 in the second half and shot 62.1% in the final half after shooting 37.9% in the first half.
Georgia Southern puts the wraps on the homestand Saturday night with a conference game against Appalachian State. The contest begins at 7:30 p.m. from Hanner Fieldhouse. Fans that bring their ticket from the playoff football game get half price tickets and the first 50 fans through the door get free food from Chik-fil-A.
Fans can follow their Eagles at GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com or receive short updates at facebook.com/GSAthletics, twitter.com/GSAthletics or on Google+ at gplus.to/GSAthletics.
- Category: Men's Basketball
- Published on Thursday, 01 December 2011 22:30